Topic: Jazz books hit perfect note to lead in to festival theme

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Published in edited form in The Bay News April 5 2012. By Paul Cumming. Tauranga City Libraries Collections Librarian. There are 250 jazz-related books in the library, and over 50 jazz compact discs

The Three Books of Jazz

So the Jazz festival has got you jiving and jinking down the backstreets. Maybe you’ve heard the old cats [terminology not often used today for musicians of certain experience and age] talking about the relative merits of mellophones, vibraphones and flugelhorns.
Yes, you can’t really get away from the jazz theme at this time of year in Tauranga, and the Tauranga Libraries are no exception.

Timing is everything in the art of jazz music, so we here at the library have timed three brand new books just right to arrive for aficionados to read in preparation to boost your knowledge on all things jazz.
The wise old characters that played guitars, drums, brass and keyboards are all given their time in the spotlight in Bill Mikowski’s Legends of Jazz. One name that springs to mind evokes memories for some of the beginnings of the jazz scene and would perhaps today raise an eyebrow for today’s more sedate listeners: Jelly Roll Morton. Morton, who was not particularly rotund, was the self-proclaimed inventor of jazz. His entry leads from pole position in this heavily-illustrated book that reads like a who’s who of jazz. Bring a large knapsack as this large format book gives Louis Armstrong a run for his money in the weight stakes.

Ted Gioia’s The History of Jazz is a more intense read. Those wanting to know about the prehistory of jazz - in the 1800s - to the progressive contemporary jazz since the dawn of the 21st Century will be thoroughly informed. Readers would be ready to announce their extensive new knowledge to all and sundry after finishing this weighty tome. There are even more jazz facts in this book than there was air in Dizzy Gillespie’s cheeks.

Those of us who don’t know where to start to begin to appreciate the music could do well to check this following baby out at the issues desk: The Penguin Jazz Guide, by Brian Morton and Richard Cook. The book does perfect justice to the subtitle: The History of the Music in the 1000 Best Albums. Easily laid out in chronological order, you will have no excuse not to experiment a little with albums from early pioneers such as Gene Krupa, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller. And if ancient dinosaurs are not your thing, Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck and Chick Corea will stoke the contemporary jazz fires with plenty of exhalation.

So if you have a spare few weeks arm yourself with these new books and come and check out our 50+ jazz CDs, to get yourself up to speed with your jazz ears, but perhaps not with your jazz hands!
Paul Cuming, Tauranga City Libraries Collections Librarian.


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